By Kevin Werner, News Staff
It looks like Hamilton will lose another event to Toronto during the 2015 Pan Am Games.
City officials are expecting the 2015 Pan Am Games officials to eliminate a second site to hold a cultural festival when the organizing committee confirms to the host communities where the event venues will be held on March 31.
Coralee Secore, manager of Pan Am Initiatives for the city, said the Pan Am organizing committee has refused to confirm Hamilton will host a cultural festival during the global event. But she is skeptical the festival will be held in Hamilton after repeated attempts to get Pan Am officials to tell her.
“We won’t know about it until March 31,” she said.
In an e-mail, Toronto 2015’s spokesperson, Carlene Siopis stated the organizing committee is in its planning stages and “many options, such as a sub-site outside of Toronto, are being explored to ensure broad engagement of our host communities for the Games, however, no formal commitments have been made.”
In 2008 when the Pan Am Games were awarded to Toronto, Hamilton was chosen to host the high profile track and field events in a new stadium; build a velodrome; McMaster was expected to hold water polo in a new 50-metre pool; volleyball was scheduled for Copps Coliseum; soccer was to be played at Ron Joyce Stadium, and the city was expected to hold a cultural festival. Four years later, the list of Pan Am events for Hamilton has dwindled to an unknown number of soccer games at the new Ivor Wynne Stadium, volleyball at Copps and the city is expected to be a hub location for Pan Am volunteers.
Hamilton lost the track and field events, the velodrome went to Milton, and soccer at Ron Joyce was quietly eliminated.
City staff pointed out even at this late stage of organization,Hamilton is at the mercy of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am organizing committee’s planning. And with the games officials’ decision to “cluster” the events, there are “planning gaps” with respect to the venue plans, said city staff.
Hamilton politicians recently rejected a proposal from the Pan Am organizing committee to host the softball and baseball events. And councillors refused to increase the city’s financial commitment to build a velodrome. The facility will now be constructed in Milton.
“We need to understand how the games are being operated,” said Ward 3 councillor Bernie Morelli. “Toronto is Toronto and Hamilton is Hamilton. I don’t know whether we know everything. We need to get clarification as soon as possible.”
The Pan Am Precinct sub-committee approved a recommendation asking the Pan Am organizing committee to re-consider a second cultural festival in Hamilton.
Secore, though, said Hamilton can still host on its own some kind of festival in the city for the participants.
“This doesn’t preclude us from doing stuff,” she said. “There is nothing wrong with engaging (the participants).”
Mayor Bob Bratina said there will be games participants who will want to stay in Hamilton during the event. It’s up to the city to entice them to visit the city, and enjoy their time during the games.